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"A second message from the owners of GHQ" Topic

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©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian25 Aug 2016 7:11 p.m. PST

It should be a rule that all vehicles are separated by at least one hull width from one another.

Shouldn't need a special rule.

"Clumping" can occur in any game where the model scale and the ground scale are markedly different.

donlowry25 Aug 2016 7:17 p.m. PST

Back around 1970 or 71 I tried to convince Gregory Dean Scott to produce a line of tanks in a larger scale, say around 1:150, but he wasn't interested. I thought they would have sold better than the 1:285 range. And I still do. Though I did sell quite a bit of GHQ back in the day.

dice gunner25 Aug 2016 8:09 p.m. PST

Played 1/72 back in the 80's. Got back into it 3 years ago and thats still my choice for scale. A friend of mind was doing cold war ghq. I told him sorry but if we intend on playing into our retirment and i get to the point where my eyes are really bad, I would hate to think i lost a whole unit of panzers because back when i could see i did a really good job of painting camo because i can't see/ nor find them now.

Mako11 Inactive Member25 Aug 2016 9:24 p.m. PST

I inquired with GHQ about producing some in 1/144th scale, but their reply was not favorable.

Said they'd need to charge $15 USD – $20 USD each for them, which is obviously a non-starter for all, but collectors, I imagine.

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Aug 2016 2:55 a.m. PST

Just some thoughts about miniature tank gaming.
I bought some superb WW2 amour in 1/200th by MERCATOR. Anyone remember those? They really are excellent for tank games with a combination of recognition and tactile size. Would be great to see MERCATOR back in play!
Back in 1970(?) I built large armoured formations using 1/150th card models. Cheap and good fun. Someone must remember them?? They were pre-coloured and a pain to stick together. I assume folk have seen the photos of card tanks made by frontline panzer units for tank recognition. they look about 1/20 scale.


Legion 426 Aug 2016 6:46 a.m. PST

GHQ does make some very nice models. And IMO that is the best scale for Co. – Bn size + games …

Their 3d World Warrior and Wehrmacht '47 are very nice and the only lines for those types & eras, AFAIK.

If they make a P1000 Ratte … I'd have to buy it !

Albino Squirrel26 Aug 2016 7:47 a.m. PST

That was really interesting stuff about the early history of GHQ. I didn't know that. They do make great miniatures. I have a lot of their N-Scale American Civil War stuff. I wish they'd do more of that, and fill out the Napoleonic stuff (particularly with more shooting or marching poses and less "advancing"). But I guess the vehicles must be their big seller.

fingolfen Inactive Member26 Aug 2016 8:21 a.m. PST

As a bit of a preface – the ground scale vs. model scale – and absolute ground scale vs. abstract ground scale debates have raged for years before this post, and will continue to rage for years AFTER this post. At the end of the day it comes down to a matter of personal preference, and that is an important distinction as I'll cover later in the post.

At this point I prefer the level of physical and painting detail I'm able to achieve with 15mm miniatures. The fact that things can get a bit crowded on the tabletop is a secondary consideration for me. I've been building models since the 70's and playing wargames almost as long. The fact that a 15mm wargame lets me merge the two hobbies effectively is attractive because, as I'm sure is common to everyone here, I don't have infinite time to pursue all of the hobbies I'd like to.

Then there is the available community. I tried to get into 1/285th micro-armor back in the 90's when I was at Ohio State University. Purchased a rule set and some pretty nice miniatures (they may even have been GHQ). There were several good game stores in town, but I literally couldn't find a group that played, and this was in a major city with one of the largest universities in the nation. I was, however, able to find a chapter of the International Plastic Modeler's Society – so I went that route.

All that being said, and despite the protestations that Flames of War players shouldn't get their hackles up, I still find several key statements in the original post objectionable, prejudicial, and in some cases insulting. I understand that GHQ wants to run a business, but rather than just grousing I'll go through my concerns in detail.

A while ago we posted a message from GHQ laying out some of the history of GHQ. In it we went over the relationships we developed with the US Army in the 1970's participating in the development of the Dunn-Kempf game. This game was developed by 2 army officers at Command & Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth named Dunn and Kempf. They contacted GHQ to do the miniatures for the game. During this time we took many trips to Ft. Leavenworth to work with the TASO (Training Aids Service Officer) who supplied us with classified photos and drawings of Soviet vehicles on a "need to know" basis. These models had to be very accurate because one of the additional purposes of the game was vehicle recognition training. They chose GHQ for this project because they were familiar with us from using our miniatures in WWII games. They liked the scale and quality of our miniatures. They could have gone with 1/87th or 1/144th, or any other scale. They could have contacted another company in a larger scale, but they thought 1/285th was the appropriate scale for Modern warfare. This was very gratifying for us because it validated our decision to choose 1/285th when we conceived GHQ Micro Armour.

The post starts with some really nice background on the company. I can certainly relate to the fact that during the 1970's and 1980's it was deucedly hard to get solid information on Soviet Bloc equipment. I was trying to build models at the time, and a lot of the really good stuff didn't start coming out until the late 1980's / early 1990's when the Iron Curtain fell. However, right off the bat the post starts to turn south as the thesis itself represents a couple of logical fallacies wrapped into one. Instead of the thesis being "1/285th is a viable OPTION for company-scale tabletop wargaming" the thesis is "1/285th is the CORRECT scale for company-scale tabletop wargaming." It does so via effectively an "appeal to authority" – because GHQ worked with the military in the 1970's to create a specific game it is de facto the correct scale.

GHQ came about because I became interested in wargaming in 1963. The games played at this time were largely WWII in 1/87th (HO-Scale) with plastic Mini Tanks. Because of the large ground scale chosen, we played on the floor. Historically wargames had been played on the floor by grown men with Britains, and other toy soldiers. This kind of gaming did not appeal to me. I felt that games should be played on a table. I felt that there had to be a ground scale, and a miniatures scale compromise that would allow realistic gaming scenarios. At the time there was no smaller scale miniatures than 1/87th for WWII.

My goal became finding the smallest practical miniature scale that was convenient to use, but still allowed a model to have excellent detail, accuracy, and recognition. I made wooden prototypes to test scales. I concluded that 1/285th fulfilled these requirements, and gave 9 times the geographical playing field as 1/87th. I then set about learning how to cast vehicles. I was already a re-loader, and cast my own bullets out of lead, so I didn't start from scratch. Dow Corning had recently come out with RTV (Room Temperature Vulcanizing) rubber. I bought some, made molds, and started experimenting. Casting lead in RTV was beyond the specs listed, but it worked fine. I contacted Dow and told them about my experiences. They were shocked. I believe that I was the first person to ever use RTV for wargames miniatures, or figures.

No issues here – great background – great company – truly a pioneer! That being said we're now walking down another slippery slope. Just because Company A was first to the party, doesn't mean that the hobby can't grow, morph, and change with time.

At any rate, you can see that the whole purpose of GHQ was to create the best scale to game WWII, and Modern warfare in miniatures…and the US Army agrees (as well as those of Germany, UK, France, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israeli, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia…) This is particularly pertinent today because of the popularity of Battlefront's "Flames of War", and now "Team Yankee". First of all, let me say that I give high praise to Battlefront for their business plan. They recognized the huge popularity of "Warhammer" and designed a WWII game that played like "Warhammer" in roughly the same scale to appeal to those interested in crossing over to WWII. To their credit they have dragged many sci-fi gamers into historical gaming. "Flames of War" is an immensely popular beginners gaming system that has attracted many adherents. It has increased the popularity of WWII gaming among beginners, and we thank them for that.

And this is where the wheels well and fully come off. The first sentence is a blatant appeal to authority logical fallacy. Wargaming – even on the historical level – is not always meant to be a 100% accurate simulation. Each individual game will have different goals, and will be trying to simulate different aspects of historical combat. Games also need to set a timeframe for play and set an overall complexity level – those will determine what abstractions need to be made in the rule set.

The next sentences essentially damn Battlefront with faint praise (or if you will an appeal to emotion logical fallacy) and then go on to belabor the "beginner" aspect of Flames of War. There are a few key errors in the assertions. Warhammer and Flames of War are not "roughly the same scale." Warhammer and Warhammer 40K miniatures are 28mm heroic scale (often >30mm) whereas Flames of War simply focused on the already popular 15mm scale. Second, while it is approachable and accessible to the beginner, characterizing it as a "beginner's gaming system" is both prejudicial and insulting to its player base.

From this point, the post continues to belabor the point that "everything you're doing is wrong" if you're not playing company level games in 1/285th scale. Many of the objections stated have some merit, but only some. For example, you can easily abstract hedgerows in Flames of War – the Normandy compilations do that quite well. Yes – proper scale urban areas and towns can be problematic, but again, there is a certain level of abstraction in the entire Flames of War system. If you are uncomfortable with that level of approximation – play Flames of War in a different scale by all means, but please don't contend that it is an empirically superior game. Instead realize it has to do with your preferences, as a player, and your comfort level with the level of abstraction in the gaming system as a whole.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2016 8:23 a.m. PST

Without going to the "ground scale cop out", as my friend rich calls it, Why do you pack vehicles like that? It has to be some kind of GAME-Y thing, right? Mean to say, is there a reason why it always looks like that,

My impression from witnessing parking lot games is that appears to be a simple mechanical result of playing on relatively small gaming tables for the forces involved.

Mobius26 Aug 2016 9:02 a.m. PST

I designed my set of rules with 1/285th scale models in mind. In fact the ground scale is 7 times too big (1:2000) scale for the models. (I was once told by the designer of Men-In-Armor that scale favored the German. Wha..?)

Be that as it may, many of my friends, have gone to the larger models. Often because everyone else in their club has. One reason I still play at the micro scale is that I use models to play the game. Others use the game to play with the models. As such they want them to be seen.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2016 9:56 a.m. PST

If the rules do not have something that push you not to, players will pack tanks wheel to wheel. Like 18 th century infantry, for the sme reason, maximizing firepower in space.

In real life you don't do that
To make life more complicated for the enemy changing target ( not be in same "screen image", artilley? Move around obstacles.
And more I can't think of.

In a skirmish scale game one could have these needs. In scales ( and can be 1/285 th too, usually not played in scale but 1cm to 20 or 50m+) the vehicle itself or its base uses most of the space. Just like we do for horse and musket where intervals are most often inside the unit base etc.

It looks wrong with tanks. It does not mean it is a bad simulation compared to ground scale even less a bad game.

john lacour Inactive Member26 Aug 2016 10:57 a.m. PST

Well, all these things may indeed be true, but I'm here to say that I have play games with many scales on our old 8x8 table and we always spread things out. Ignoring ground scale and everrything else, its a FOW game-y tactic and again nobody says why…

Just tell me what benifits you get from those packs of tanks.


lcannard Inactive Member26 Aug 2016 11:24 a.m. PST

It's simple, you have all your firepower massed at the narrowest point possible, maximising your strength and minimising return fire. And if your opponent has no air, artillery or particularly aggressive infantry nearby, there is no reason not to bunch up.

fingolfen Inactive Member26 Aug 2016 1:20 p.m. PST

For those still complaining about how things "look wrong" – remember, tanks right next to each other in Flames of War are not literally running bumper to bumper, given the ground scale, there is ample distance between them… That being said – if I read the German primer on armored combat, it does seem to advocate concentrating your armor – so I question those saying "in real life you don't do that."

Mobius26 Aug 2016 1:38 p.m. PST

Just tell me what benifits you get from those packs of tanks

When defenders are loop holed multiple tanks can fire back at them through their narrow slot, negating the defense.

In PW it is possible to get multiple hits on a target. If there are several targets within a certain small distance the hits can be spread around instead of used on just one tank. You can pop several huddled tanks with one firing tank. That's one way to keep them apart.

john lacour Inactive Member26 Aug 2016 1:57 p.m. PST

So there is the reason! Deleted by Moderator

You guys are fighting over the correct colors, how many vehicles are in a company/platoon, and you care so much to play a game that basicly says "bunch your tanks up to focus firepower and cut down of flank fire???

Deleted by Moderator

normsmith Inactive Member26 Aug 2016 2:02 p.m. PST

Tonight's main news ……………….

wargamers in disagreement over which size toys they should play with and how they should look on the table.

fingolfen Inactive Member26 Aug 2016 4:09 p.m. PST

john – doesn't work that way – enemy units do not block line of sight – so even if you have your vehicles in a bunch, they can ALL still be hit. Interestingly they do block FRIENDLY line of sight in certain situations so you have to be careful when bunching up…

… and honestly your ridicule has no place on this forum…

Mark 126 Aug 2016 5:11 p.m. PST

Shouldn't need a special rule.

"Clumping" can occur in any game where the model scale and the ground scale are markedly different.

Which suggests that the "clumping" so common in FoW is in some part due to the distortions caused by model scale vs. the ground scale, which was, I believe, one of the artifacts of scale distortion suggested in the OP.

That said, I have seen "clumping" occur in other scales too. I agree that it should not be necessary to have rules to prevent it, but that will likely occur only IF you have rules that provide some level of punishment to those who "clump" too closely together.

Even at micro scale, we can find players that put their tanks bumper-to-bumper. Here we see a company of Tigers facing down a battalion of T-34s. The T-34 player has put his clumped his tanks together because, hey, why not? There was not enough of a disadvantage in the rules. The Tiger player, though, has spaced his vehicles out at least a little. It looks a little odd, but does not quite cross into the realm of silliness. But I can picture the same rules, with this same ground scale, with models four times as large. Add the FoW rules, with ridiculously truncated gun ranges encouraging the opposing players to bring the tanks down to 4-12 inches away from each other, and it would have started to look pretty silly, to me.

Of course, the real world has MANY rules that punish those who "clump" too closely together. If you've ever tried to drive a tank, you would know that you are half likely to smash into anything that you get too close to. Visibility and control are just not perfect enough to risk being close. And if you are distracted by the stresses of combat, you are even more likely to smash into things that are close by. Which won't bother you too much if they are lamp posts or fences, but may well ruin your day if they are other tanks.

So the issue, to me, is not so much having a rule against putting your vehicles bumper-to-bumper, but rather having enough of a dose of practical realism such that if you do, you will quickly learn how foolish you were for doing it.

Which is opposite of the current FoW rules on this point, as the FoW rules seem to reward this approach to play, rather than punishing it. It is a consistent visual … I can pick-out FoW games at cons just by looking for the parking-lots-of-tanks. Those who play FoW seem to learn that they do better when they "clump" their vehicles together.

In addition the FoW rules seem, through the distortion gun ranges being preposterously out of scale to the models, to encourage opposing forces to put their tanks almost nose-to-nose. This phenomenon, at least, would probably be less common if the game scale were used with smaller models.

But I say "seem", because while I see the results, I do not have extensive familiarity with the rules. So those who do are more than welcome to correct my impression.

For those still complaining about how things "look wrong" – remember, tanks right next to each other in Flames of War are not literally running bumper to bumper, given the ground scale, there is ample distance between them…

Well, yes. But that's the point, isn't it? It looks wrong. You can say "oh, but they are not actually bumper-to-bumper … there is ample room between them." But that's not what I see. So it looks wrong.

That said, it is difficult for me, at least, to simply accept that two tanks that I can see with my own eyes side-by-side on a village street actually have 50 yards of separation between them, as well as separation to the hovels on each side, because WHY THE H3LL IS THE VILLAGE STREET 100+ YARDS WIDE???

Again, another distortion caused by having models that are out-sized vs. the game scale.

And … what happens if both of those tanks are damaged / immobilized / knocked-out? Is that street still passable to other vehicles, because after all there are dozens of yards of clear space around and between those knocked-out tanks? Or is the road blocked, as it appears to be on the table?

And … in the real world sometimes tanks DO have cause to be close to each other. It is rare, because the risks of mishap are high. But sometimes there are traffic jams at chokepoints, or the unit is green enough that they follow the more basic human tendency to cluster together when in danger. And then there is a real risk due to poor unit spacing. So the experienced commander will be highly motivated to clear the chokepoint, and the green commander will learn his lessons quickly. Unless it's FoW, in which case they learn to do it again.

Shrug. We live with it.

But it would help if the rules didn't encourage it. Because it makes the game boards look silly. And I am a big fan of games that look good. And that's the whole reason people keep saying they like the larger scales … because of the visual appeal. Which I totally get. But then they paint their tanks bright purple and yellow with big kitten eyes on the hull fronts, and the visual appeal is lost in the silliness. (OK they don't paint them silly, but putting a dozen tanks bumper-to-bumper with each other and with the enemy looks just about as silly, to me.)

You're mileage may vary.

(aka: Mk 1)

john lacour Inactive Member26 Aug 2016 6:44 p.m. PST

well, show all the pics you like. I have NEVER played a game, in ANY scale, with ANY rules, with ANY other people, and had clumps of vehicles like a FOW/TY game.

Thanks, but no need to show any pics Mark. Some other member told me why FOW players pack tanks like that.

Like I said, I can now LMAO at the battlefront guys fighting over someone painting a Panther G(late production) in panzer grey(even tho theirs a pic of one in the old squadron.signal panther book).

Question:if I am in a tight spot on the table, can I "stack" 4 tanks, one on top of the other?

Deleted by Moderator

fingolfen Inactive Member26 Aug 2016 9:00 p.m. PST

John – if you want to know – read the rules. If you don't care (which I believe strongly is the case) – then don't.

john lacour Inactive Member26 Aug 2016 11:55 p.m. PST

I'm no troll, boys. Almost 50, so I'm not just Bleeped text.

I'll ask again"can I stack 4 js2 tanks one on top the other? To me, it would'nt seem out of place in a world war 2 game that rewards this sort of play.

Deleted by Moderator

normsmith Inactive Member27 Aug 2016 12:04 a.m. PST

Can I stack 4 js2 tanks one on top of the other?

It's your game John, I think you can do what you like.

Cold Warrior27 Aug 2016 2:37 a.m. PST

As someone who spends a lot of money with GHQ, have to agree this came across a bit pompous. Frankly disappointed any company feels the need to "preach" a "correct" scale or way of playing.

Just my .02….YMMV.

Mako11 Inactive Member27 Aug 2016 3:00 a.m. PST

I imagine a few "pre-registered" artillery strikes on badly clumped armor should get the message across.

If not, there are always tactical nukes……….

john lacour Inactive Member27 Aug 2016 4:10 a.m. PST

But it never happens, Mark.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP27 Aug 2016 4:47 a.m. PST

Driving a tank: driver sees very little sideways. If you are close you might at one point ( as you are also easily into the side if the firing sectors?) find yourself into the sights of the gun whose firing trigger unfortunatelly has just been pushed.
Read all pro manuals, 50-100 m unless choke points, and then you just don't stay.

As said main game reason: no punishment. What I just pointed out in real life, or if playing CD or Spearhead( which also has as much parking lot as FOW) or most rules, artillery against tanks is not efficient enough.

It might not kill them, but will make life a misery, cut down the normally out up commander, might damage stuff. And from inside you would not know what is hit or not…till use it, inspect it outside (no fun in combat). Many tankers in doubt would just be combat ineffective which is what many a "kill" is in games.

Games are rules and mechanics. Players like lawyers are bound to go to the edge of the rules when able. So make the rules to suit the aims.

Artillery damage ( in CD for ex allow regroup of tanks as for infantry) up.
A+1 for bunching targets which simulates the easiness to acquire a new target which is already in your sights. Nothing complicated, then your game is way different.

furgie27 Aug 2016 4:54 a.m. PST

I'm shocked and horrified with what I've read here – None of you will be going to Wargamer heaven – the ONLY scale to be played for any game if you want to play on the big boards in the sky is 1/72……



andresf27 Aug 2016 6:44 a.m. PST

I play with 1/72 because that's what's easiest to get in my country, and also I like the look of soldiers and tanks in that scale. Bigger scale, I lack the skill and time to paint them. Smaller scale, my eyes and manual dexterity fail me. 1/72 is perfect!

I am intrigued by micro armor and would collect it as well (I both like the look of GHQ vehicles and the fact I could use it for my small size table) but I am extremely disappointed by some of the attitudes in this thread.

I don't know what people being sarcastic, preachy and dismissive of other people's games expect to achieve :| Certainly not convince them to try other games, because that's not the way to do it. This will only push people away from wargaming as a whole.

I'm also puzzled when people call Warhammer or FoW "mainstream" or "beginner's games". They are not. Very few people play them, only nerds do. And they are *very* complex games. Not sure if it helps armchair generals feel superior by calling these games simple :|

It's also self-evident to me that realism is a matter of degrees. Just because something about the game's rules or its scale is unrealistic it doesn't automatically mean you can include flying dragons or that you can stack a Panzer and a Troll together. Again, nothing "honest" about that sort of implications :/

Mobius27 Aug 2016 6:45 a.m. PST

and honestly your ridicule has no place on this forum…

Welcome to Lake Wobegon forum, where all the scales are stronk and all the rules are above average.

donlowry27 Aug 2016 8:35 a.m. PST

Re the bumper-to-bumper and/or fender-to-fender tanks:
How about a rule that when 2 or more tanks start a turn (or impulse or whatever) within a certain minimum distance of each other, they stand a very good chance of colliding with each other? (Causing damage, delaying movement, preventing firing, etc.)

wizbangs27 Aug 2016 9:31 a.m. PST

Those of you who rant about the hub-to-hub issue in FOW seriously need to find a new street corner to stand on. I've literally lost count of how many times this has come up and, frankly, it's beginning to bore me.

Ditto for the "Flames of War" ain't realistic crowd. *yawn!*

It all comes down to how the players play the games and what is important to them. If ground scale is so important to John, then sure, stack your 4 tanks on top of each other so you can play a "realistic" game. While you're at it, put some artificial turf down in your backyard so that you're playing with the proper concentration of forces on a specific front, because realistically, your one platoon will cover the width of your game table.

As for me, I continue to play visually appealing games and have no problems with selective compression when it comes to ranges; particularly when it has very little bearing on the flow of the game itself.

Tanks can't drive next to each other without colliding, so they remain 1 hull width apart in all of my games (when it's even necessary). Considering most actions are infantry based with tanks in support, I rarely find more than a dozen on my table anyway (and that's just the Russian swarms). If it required a special rule to mandate it I would first recognize that I am playing with a pedantic opponent & I probably wouldn't even finish the game.

I gave up 20 years of playing micro-armor because, as another said earlier, my eyes just aren't good enough anymore and any pictures I take of my battles look like little dots moving around on a great big table. I'm also done gluing my fingers or tweezers together while trying to add crews, passengers & MGs to the vehicles.

GHQ is an awesome company & I loved their product when it suited my needs. But to squabble over who is better is simply juvenile.

Mako11 Inactive Member27 Aug 2016 9:33 a.m. PST

Roll 2D6, once for each vehicle.

If a tie, a collision has occurred, paint is scratched, fenders are damaged, tank commander is pissed off = morale check and vehicles are stuck together for at least one turn, and perhaps more.

Roll 2+ or 3+ on 1D6 to separate the vehicles, on the second turn after the collision. Failure(s) mean they remain in place for another turn – stuck together, thrown tread(s), flat tires, etc., etc.. Three failures in a row means they're permanently stuck together/immobilized for the remainder of the game.

-1 to the die roll if a softskinned vehicle is involved in the collision, since it's caught up in the treads/bogies, and/or its tires are more vulnerable to damage.

Windward27 Aug 2016 4:13 p.m. PST

One of the reasons I don't do micro armor any more is the fragility of the figures and the expense. The rise of 28mm never mind 15mm compress the battle field even more.

I skirmish game in 15mm for WWII to keep the battles from being knife fights. But for tank battles, unless your using multiunit rules like CD, the compression gets silly.

Back to my original complaint against micro armor, durability and expense, I experimented with 3mm. Like Pico armor. Cheap and VERY durable, the barrels are cast onto the hull. The details are good, but not super detailed more for affect. But you need bases at this scale they are just too small to handle.

But at the end of the day I will stay with 15mm and rules that change the scale.

DanLewisTN29 Aug 2016 5:29 p.m. PST


Rather snotty posting. Plurality: "more than one idea is accepted." He is only sharing his ideas. Your reply comes off as pretty immature.

DanLewisTN29 Aug 2016 5:42 p.m. PST

@who is this joker

Actully 15mm is 1/100 or at least very very close. He isnt talking about the ground scale in FOW, or amy scale associated with those rules. 1/100 scale miniatures are equal to 16mm scale in metric. Simply put the scale of the miniature is 1/100 the size of the real thing. Hence 15mm is referred to as 1/100 scales miniatures.

Queen Catherine Inactive Member29 Aug 2016 8:04 p.m. PST

Really interesting post – as an older geezer, I love hearing about some of the hobby history and its development from military projects.

As someone who's in the military, I find the challenges of game design and development just as interesting as actually playing and hosting.

So, think the post is just FAN-TASTIC!

However, all my WWII is 15mm these days. It's just the aesthetic and ease of painting something bigger. I also enjoy doing funny and characterful objective markers. However, I've quit playing FoW, and indeed it has collapsed in my area, b/c it too closely copied the GW game design philosophy that you have to keep adding special rules to differentiate units tactically and technically. Eventually, none of us could keep track of our own units even, so it just wasn't fun anymore.

That being said, I think the OP has raised a critical TERRAIN issue, one that is often overlooked in the modern era – all the rules I've been reading say that detailed terrain, and plenty of it, are very important to a modern game. Unfortunately, most of us don't bother with it.

The problem became really apparent to me when I was considering doing bocage for Normandy. Say a field is about 100y by 150y. How big should it be in FoW? With the telescoping ground scale it is hard to say. Add in the large 15mm figures and you end up with bocage fields that are several hundred yards, or so, on the table.

So what if you've a fixed ground scale? In my WWII rules spun off of Neil Thomas, we've a set scale at 1"=50m, resulting in fields that would be about 2"x 3". These fields look silly in 15mm, more like a back yard garden. In 1/285 they'd look more realistic, but still distorted. So I'd still find the distortion a problem at 1/285.

The solution for our rules is that terrain is abstracted. We create and put out terrain with the goal that it look nice, and provide a realistic problem for the players as commanders. So no detailed rules for fighting in houses which is a SGT problem anyway, not the company commander's problem.

So altho the issue is terrain is very true, unless one only has about 1/2 or 1/3 amount of distortion compared to figure size, it's always going to be an issue with no scale fitting in.

1/285 tank battle, sure. 1/285 infantry battles, well, I can hardly see the little Bleeped texts much less tell if they are SS, Herman Goerring or "other", the problem is much worse with Russian infantry being OK as British or US, basically.

So I don't have a solution to the problem at this point, except for accepting distortion and abstraction for the good of the cause.

Still, one of the more interesting posts lately. Shame few people are focusing on the terrain issue, b/c I think it is the most interesting part of it to discuss!

DanLewisTN29 Aug 2016 8:31 p.m. PST

@queen Catherine
A lot of what you say resonates with me as well. I'm an 61 and have been wargaming WWII since I was 16. I played 1/72 scale with Joe Struck in Southern California in 1972.

I really like 15mm because it is visibly great looking. I like 28mm for the same reason. It's no coincidence that infantry skirmish games/rules are most often associated with 15mm and 28mm. They work well together because larger scales are not encumbered in infantry centric combat.

However when it comes to using 15mm+ with a game that is more about tank battles than infantry, then the scale calls for a lot of compromises unless you want a tank game where every shot on the board is within kill range. So being successful in using 15mm in combination with large tank battles, which FOW has accomplished, means that they made a lot of compromises with space perception and resort to telescoping scales. It's not a bad thing. It allows people to enjoy the advantages of the scale while still being able to game at something other than infantry centric games.

But it's not everyone's cup of tea. So they might like the rules but not the scale and the arguments in favor of a different scale are persuasive. Or they might like the scale but not the rules.

What's most important is to understand that wargaming is a hobby that represents a collection of ideas, philosophy, preferences, experiences, and perceptions. But more than anything wargaming is socializing. It's a way for people with a common interest (military history) to get together and enjoy each other's company and banter with each other while bringing a little bit of that history to life on the table.

Queen Catherine Inactive Member29 Aug 2016 9:23 p.m. PST

I think you're advocating for hard drinking and lots of lies being told, sir Dan Lewis!

I humbly admit I do not have a solution. I agree that infantry battles fight nicely visually in 15-25mm, and armor is probably best in 1/285.

The terrain issue is still a problem. I can't decide if I should can all my lovely 15mm models and switch to 1/285 or something else. part of the prob is that most of it is desert war, and that is very tank-biased!

christot Inactive Member29 Aug 2016 10:54 p.m. PST

For some terrain issues there are solutions, which may or may not be satisfactory.
Bocage for example, rather than say this is a tiny field, this is a hedgerow etc, simply designate an entire area as bocage with commensurate effects: ie vehicles move at x, visibilty is y, infantry get z cover benefits etc throughout an entire area.
Depends how much abstraction you want.
If you really don't want the abstraction, play a smaller scale.

wizbangs30 Aug 2016 7:19 a.m. PST

Bear in mind that a lot of ranges on the table are based on the probability of unmodeled terrain being in the way, such as rolling ground or the collective effective of thin brush over distance.

For example, I'm able to reconcile a maximum direct fire range of 24" in FOW because targets beyond that range are just too difficult to spot (a slope in the ground blocking some of the target or several unmodeled clusters of debris).

We've retained line of sight rules from Spearhead to apply the distance factor to other circumstances in addition to direct fire ranges.

Russ Lockwood30 Aug 2016 9:45 a.m. PST

Back in Sep 2000, paid a visit to GHQ, with myself and Tibor making a stop on our way to a Europa (boardgame) convention. Granted, that's 16 years ago (really, that long ago!?), but I suspect except for the people referenced, much of what we observed remains the same. Greg can correct anything that's changed.

Here's the text (sorry, only photo captions agvailable, not the photos):

Travel: GHQ Miniatures Inc.

Minneapolis, MN (USA)
Article and photos by Russ Lockwood

The world headquarters of miniature manufacturer GHQ resides on the second floor, conveniently above a brewpub, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Hardly any sign marks the entrance to the company, and instead, it took us a bit to locate the back door and ring the bell.

We were quickly escorted past rows of model molds and products to the office of Jim Moffet, who graciously escorted CEO Russ Lockwood and VP Tibor Vari into the manufacturing facilities for the grand tour, which enthusiastically stretched into an hour.

If one aspect shines through, it's Jim's enthusiasm about his work. He passionately explained the plethora of steps needed to turn lead into gold, or, in GHQ's case, pewter into dollars. From his cluttered office and photography lab (well, actually a corner of the office with a camera, light, and cable connecting them to a computer), he guided us to the first step: the master model.

This is made of poly something or other in exactly the scale needed. If it's a 1/285 Micro Armor, it's 1/285. If it's a 1/2400 ship, it's 1/2400.

Photo: Master modeler Randy crafts another GHQ master model.

Unlike other model companies that make the first model much larger and scale it down, at GHQ, what you see is what you get. And these masters are as detailed as what you receive in the final GHQ blister pack. It takes roughly one to two weeks to create each master.

From this first model, a number of hand-crafted, individual production masters are created. Jim notes that it's an extra step, but an essential one if the quality is to be maintained from beginning to end.

Photo: Jim Moffet (left) holds a box of the master models. VP Tibor Vari peers in for a closer look.

Note that an individual item that you buy, for example, an armored fighting vehicle, may have multiple pieces, such as a hull and a turret. Thus, each part requires a production master, and multiple production masters are hand cast.

Once these production masters are created, they go to the next station: mold creation. Like a layered cake, the production mold is made up of layers. A circular steel case holds a layer of rubber, in which the production masters are placed equidistant from each other, along with "buttons" to allow another layer of rubber to grip.

A mold, in this case, of a 1/2400 scale ship. Each impression requires a hand-cut sluice to allow air to escape when the pewter fills the cavity. Those circular dimples are "buttons."

The whole thing is stuffed into an oversized pressure cooker, heated to 375 degrees or so, pressed at 4000 pounds per square inch, and then removed. This can take up to three hours for a single mold.

The two halves are cracked open and the now vulcanized rubber is hand cut to allow for the escape of air during the actual centrifugal casting process. Examining a mold for GHQ's 10 mm ACW infantry, you notice each bayonet tip ends with a slice--or perhaps I should say sluice. When the molten pewter enters the mold, it flows into the cavity and the air flows out. Clean cuts and pristine rubber molds ensure a sharp detail and little flash. These rubber molds, however, decay with repeated castings. If you find figures with lots of flash, it's because the mold is wearing out.

Jim proudly points out that GHQ creates new molds to keep the quality up. He's pretty obsessive about quality, and it shows. Certainly the racks and racks of molds bear out that GHQ has over 1000 different products, each of multiple parts. It's a lot to track.

Photo: Caster Alex has the hottest job in the company.

Next we go back to the hottest part of the operation: the casting room. Here, a worker places the mold into the casting machine, pours the pewter in, and makes the actual miniatures. The molds are separated in half, and the miniatures appear at the ends of "spokes" of a "wheel" of pewter. He pours wheel upon wheel, removing each and placing them a worktable.

At the table comes another quality control step where another worker eyeballs each individual piece. Yes, each piece gets the once-over. The ones that pass are placed in a small bin and the rest get placed in a bucket to be re-melted and re-cast.

Photo: Quality assurance requires a sharp eye as Javier examines 1/1200 scale rowboats.

While there, I picked up a discarded wheel with about a third of the figures (1/1200 scale rowboats) to examine. Well, to my obviously untrained eye they seemed O.K., so I asked Jim (and put his quality control expert on the spot) why they were unacceptable.

Jim squinted a bit and then started to point out this error or that, an unformed line here or too much flash there. Rather picky I thought, but to offer the quality, that's the sort of scrutiny you need to practice.

Photo: Moffet (left) explains micro-armor nirvana to Vari.

The plastic bins then get stacked on shelves and divided into product lines and numbers. It's not exactly the Dewey decimal system, but it works. Having now been indoctrinated in the casting aspect, I poked through bins at random to see the final products. They all looked pretty good to me, with minimal flash and maximum detail.

Then comes the laborious part -- inserting the right number of pieces into blister packs. Ever wonder how the right number of turrets and hulls match up? Or the right number of ship hulls, masts, and rowboats? There's a fellow counting them out.

Photo: Craig counts out parts, usually filling 48 blister packs at a time. Here, it's ship hulls.

Let me digress here for a moment. For large bulk orders, there's a counting gizmo back in the casting room. In my naivetι, I mentioned that it was nothing but a scale. I mean it had one big scoopy thing and two small balancing cups. How was this to count?

Jim demonstrated. He pulled up a pile of figures and dumped them in the large scoopy part. Then he plucked a single figure and dropped it in one of the cups marked 99:1. If the scale evens out, you've got 100 figures. If it's not, you've got more or less. As it was less, Jim pulled the figure out of the 99:1 small cup and placed it in the 9:1 cup, then kept adding figures to the small cup. After the eighth one, the scales almost balanced, but the ninth went over. Jim noted there were about 85 or so figures.

What a deucedly clever gizmo. Then again, I'm impressed with all sorts of clever gizmos.

Back to the tour. After the blisters are filled, they're passed off to another station, where the cardboard backing is placed over the plastic and the entire blister pack placed on a rotating sealer machine to be heated shut. This is done two at a time.

Photo: "Blister babe" Alex shows off a final pack.

The finished blisters are moved to a larger front room, where they're placed on shelves. Off to the side, a packing and mailing station ships orders to distributors, direct to hobby shops, or direct to individual customers.

The warehouse area holds thousands of packs ready for shipment. GHQ is increasingly ditching distributors and shipping direct to stores and individuals.

Also in the front sits a table where GHQ products are put to good use. Of note are the new GHQ buildings atop a slight rise. The actual terrain is modeled after a famous battle (except for the village). I guessed Waterloo and got the big miss. Then I guessed Hastings, and then Antietam. Three guesses, three misses. It's Gettysburg.

Bits and Pieces

GHQ is producing a set of 1/285 scale buildings and embarking on its first rules venture--a WWII set called Century of Conflict authored by John Fernandes.

NOTE: This was released as WWII Micro Armour: The Game. -- RSL

Also, you can expect a new 1/1200 Napoleonic ship, the HMS Shannon. More on these as we learn more.

Photo: Gettysburg terrain with new GHQ buildings. WWII rages on the battlefield using the new Century of Conflict rules.

And so the visit was over all too soon. We headed downstairs for a brew and burger, and then out of Minneapolis.

NKL AeroTom30 Aug 2016 11:12 a.m. PST

Interesting Article Russ, a good read!

On the topic of "clumping" in our ww2 system, Ostfront, there are template weapons like howitzer batteries, so if you clump your vehicles or infantry together, a single barrage could damage or destroy multiple units – seems to discourage clumping nicely – provided you took a howitzer or Katyusha battery…

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member30 Aug 2016 11:36 a.m. PST

I'm shocked and horrified with what I've read here – None of you will be going to Wargamer heaven – the ONLY scale to be played for any game if you want to play on the big boards in the sky is 1/72……

A heretic! Get him! BRING THE DUCK

Mako11 Inactive Member30 Aug 2016 11:48 a.m. PST

For tight terrain, like bocage, which has fields of generally 100m x 100m, to 100m x 200m, so I've read, I generally go with skirmish rules, and shoot for a 1:1 to 1:3 ground scale, depending upon table size, minis being used, etc..

It's very difficult to coordinate unit attacks in the bocage, due to line of sight and communications issues, so I tend to look at these as individual fights for the fields by small units of troops and a tank or two, up to perhaps a platoon, maximum.

That seems to work quite well, and is, from what I've read, a bit more historically accurate.

Of course, you are free to conduct larger attacks as well, but I think one should consider modifying the ground scale to fit the terrain being fought over, whenever possible, and when it makes sense.

Wolfhag30 Aug 2016 1:59 p.m. PST

Micro Armor is the only way to go if you are going to have a somewhat historical simulation of a small to medium scale tank-tank engagement and are limited to 12 feet of table space. I'm a senior citizen and have figured a way make small size playable.

It's easy to have believable terrain and buildings on the cheap that look good like an aerial overview.

I've seen many of the 28mm games with those beautiful laser cut buildings. However, when I look at them it reminds me of a miniature doll house.


DanLewisTN30 Aug 2016 4:01 p.m. PST

Re: 28mm and even 15mm, I can't get past the expense so I limit my 28mm purchases to Old West games and figs. Just thinking about building forces, terrain etc in a new scale seems overwelming. So i certainly understand when someone has invested in 15mm why they would hesitate to switch scales.

DanLewisTN30 Aug 2016 4:11 p.m. PST

@Queen Catherine

Drinking and war gaming? I cant imagine such a thing…more tha once a week that is.

My 1/285th is all western desert as well. I think if i was going to venture into a new scale like 15mm I would change theatres. That way I'm nit replacing my existing scale mearly limiting myself to the existing theatre for the current scale.

I would like to try Japanese theatre with rules that are more along the lines of infantry skirmish.

DanLewisTN30 Aug 2016 5:16 p.m. PST

I agree. Bocage is best played as you have described.

Wolfhag30 Aug 2016 6:07 p.m. PST

I lucked out and got a good collection of painted GHQ for a good price. A friend gave me a beautiful set of 200 geohex terrain tiles that are painted and textured. They can be used for micro and 20mm. I'm also holding a set up nicely painted 20mm vehicles so I'm all set. The 20mm I use at conventions, GHQ for my own games.


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